Martin Rebelski

•• Rebelski @ Royal Festival Hall, London, 6 August 2004
•• Published: SoundsXP, September 2004
•• Original article:

The Royal Festival Hall must be a daunting venue to play only your third gig, but the fact Martin Rebelski's first solo gig was at the Royal Albert Hall should help take the edge off his nerves. Add to this a full time job as keyboard player in The Doves, the backing of a five-piece band and the support of a couple of guest vocalists and it's no wonder he looks so comfortable on stage in such hallowed surroundings.

Having recently signed to Badly Drawn Boy's Twisted Nerve label, it is clear from the instrumental opener onwards that Rebelski is intent on keeping his boss happy through the very highest form of praise: imitation. It's not just his multi-instrument playing that draws comparisons between himself and the wooly-hatted one but the very style and texture of the music he produces. Whether on xylophone, keyboard or piano, the Mancunian's combination of warm melodies, deep melancholy and earthy lo-fi touches all contribute to make the Rebelski sound seem almost derivative at times.

There are some distinguishing features, however, like the Mercury Rev-style orchestration and some weird old wibbly organs that create a whiff of Beck but it is not until the end of the set that we hear some deviations from the badly-drawn blueprint. Mike TV offers his vocals to lightly brushed keys, a hypnotic kickdrum and some space invader sound effects before a simple, strutting, uptempo instrumental builds and surges into an ecstatic finale and it is these set-closers that show Rebelski's true individual talent.

A frontman who takes a backseat, Rebelski seems to have the seeds of his own unique sound planted already, let's hope they take root and he develops into a musical innovator rather than merely a competent imitator of his idols.

- Ian Roullier, 08/2004
Copyright © Ian Roullier 2004-2014